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ON THE SHOW TODAY
12/19: It's News Day Tuesday! But first, Sam and Emma speak with Peter Beinart, editor-at-large at Jewish Currents, author of the Beinart Notebook on SubStack, and professor at the CUNY School of Journalism, to discuss his recent piece entitled "Harvard Is Ignoring Its Own Antisemitism Experts."
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Today you'll read about Clarence Thomas reaching hilarious new heights of corruption, the Pope finding religion on same-sex couples, and the all too dangerous cosplay of border vigilantes.
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THE BIG NEWS
Clarence Thomas Told a GOP Congressman He Wanted to Get Paid
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has long been concerned about his income as one of the country's top judges. According to a new report from ProPublica – part of an ongoing investigation into Thomas' finances and relationships with wealthy elites – Thomas told Florida Rep. Cliff Stearns, in 2000, that some judges might leave the court for lack of compensation – a not too subtle hint that someone needed to do something about the situation. Thomas' comments to Stearns "set off a flurry of activity across the judiciary and Capitol Hill," including a memo from a US judiciary official to Chief Justice William Rehnquist looking for advice on how to deal with "this delicate matter."
In the decades since, Thomas apparently got his wish, receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts, travel, loans, and other expenses from conservative friends and political donors, some of whom have had business before the court. ProPublica has found 38 vacations that Thomas took that were subsidized by billionaire businessmen. They've also discovered trips and other benefits that Thomas did not report on financial disclosure forms, possibly in violation of federal law.
The Thomas revelations have become a stark example of the rot in our political institutions, which extends to the highest reaches of the judiciary. Thomas has not only gorged on undisclosed largesse from some very powerful people. He's also married to a political operative who tried to help overturn the 2020 presidential election. Despite requests from Democrats, Thomas has yet to recuse himself from most January 6-related cases, and so far, he's experienced nothing more than some light social embarrassment for the revelations that he is apparently a paid-up member of the right-wing elite.
MORE STORIES TO WATCH
Russell Brand Questioned by British Police
Actor, comedian, and conspiratorial lifestyle guru Russell Brand was recently questioned by British police about "three alleged sexual offenses," according to British media. In September, in a UK newspaper investigation, four women accused Brand of sexual assault. He's since been dropped by his representatives as more stories surface of predatory and abusive behavior. Brand has claimed that the encounters were consensual and has painted the accusations as retaliation for his questioning of the deep state or whomever exactly is supposed to be afraid of the guy from Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
United Nations Delays Gaza Ceasefire Vote
After a disagreement over language, the UN Security Council delayed a vote Monday on a Gaza ceasefire resolution. The delay was reportedly due to the fact that the US delegation would only support a "suspension of hostilities" rather than a "cessation of hostilities." According to The Guardian, some Biden officials are acutely aware that Israel's war in Gaza is deeply unpopular outside the American power elite:
Divisions within the US administration have been growing with some officials saying the US is misunderstanding the scale of disillusionment in the Global South over US perceived hypocrisy in calling out Russian war crimes in Ukraine, but finding a multitude of reasons to justify the large scale killings of Palestinians in Gaza.
- Miami Mayor Working for Saudi Government Francis Suarez, the crypto-loving mayor of Miami, has traveled to Saudi Arabia as part of of his work for a law firm that's deeply involved in helping promote the business interests of the Middle Eastern dictatorship. His reps claim his legal work is separate from his largely ceremonial post of mayor. via Miami Herald.
- Pope Francis Acknowledges Same-Sex Couples While the Catholic Church's official line on marriage hasn't changed, it is now allowing priests to bless same-sex couples during pilgrimages and prayer events. via The New York Times.
- Texas to Allow Police to Arrest Migrants Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a new bill allowing local police to arrest migrants who are in the country illegally. The law is a direct rebuke to federal control over immigration policy and will likely receive a court challenge. via Associated Press.
- Nikola Founder Gets 4 Years in Federal Prison The former CEO of Nikola – one of two sketchily run electric car companies named after famed inventor Nikola Tesla – was sentenced to four years in prison for fraud. The company became notorious for faking an autopilot demo of one of its vehicles. via The Verge.
That's how much the U.S. Department of Transportation fined Southwest Airlines for a collapse in its systems during last year's holiday's travel rush. The debacle led to 17,000 flights being canceled and innumerable tales of stranded travelers left to fend for themselves. The fine is part of a larger Biden administration to force airlines to better plan for disruptions and to adequately compensate travelers with hotel stays, transport vouchers, and the like.
DON'T MISS MR CLIPS
There are many versions of Ron DeSantis – and each seems like a worst campaigner than the last.
America's mayor owes $148 million to poll workers who he falsely claimed were meddling with vote totals.
"We would have brought them back [into our camp] and fed them. Women and children, hey, I’m not going to let ‘em f—in’ die. If they were in camouflage clothing and they are all males, we would have pushed them back into Mexico."
-- From a new Los Angeles Times investigation into anti-immigrant militias operating on the US-Mexico border. Armed men in camouflage, working in self-organized groups, have become a common presence along the border, allowing nativists to cosplay as militant defenders of the country. While the militias have no official authority, they have become darlings of the American far-right.
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